I am working at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and the Episcopal Church at large has definitely prioritized proper, sound liturgy over the years. In the Episcopal Church, it isn’t so much our theology (or our individual theologies) that unite us, but it is our life of common prayer. We pray the same things together, we do the same things together, and that unites us.
And yet, at St. Paul’s, our children’s Christian Formation classrooms have at times reminded me of the evangelical classrooms that I had been exposed to as a youth. They can be content and craft heavy, but somehow they were missing a little bit of that liturgical flair that is so central to the Episcopal identity. This year I have set about to guiding our Christian Formation rooms so that the Christian Formation hour itself can be seen as essential to the life of faith, and to tie what happens there to what happens in the Eucharist.
This year we have begun a practice of Godly Play during our Children’s Chapel, and I wanted to tie this particular service to everything we do in Children’s Faith Formation.
What I have done is added a small station to the classrooms that uses the same furniture style as the Godly Play room, and set up a Holy Family and Christ candle in each room. This way, there is a candle to light which acknowledges the presence of Christ in our midst, a Holy Family to remind us that God can be born anywhere, and a felt underlay that changes colors with the cycle of the church year. Many Episcopalians will never get the chance to even touch the cloth on the altar in our churches, but these kids will be the ones to light the candles and change the colors to match the church year. It’s a small way to ease our classes into a more focused, meditative, liturgical direction without bucking the whole system that already exists. It’s also lots of fun. Kids love fire.
Here is a link to the Holy Family that you can buy on Amazon:
Here is a link to the box of felt underlays that I got for a bargain: